Screen time and vitamin D
Managing your children's screen time can be a real challenge in the twenty-first century. There's nothing wrong with screen time in moderation, but in a world where digital devices have become so common and so much a part of the way we live our lives, moderation's easier said than done.
The rise of the device
For kids aged between two and five, it's recommended to keep screen time under an hour per day, or under two hours for older kids. Most Aussie children today are exceeding that, sometimes by a lot.
By the age of thirteen, Australian kids are spending on average more than three hours a day on screens (and nearly four on weekends) - up to thirty percent of their waking *.
The great outdoors
Screen time's a part of modern life, and it can have its benefits. But the longer your kids spend on screens, the less time they have to get outside and be active.
Regular exercise is important for a child's development, building stronger bones and muscles, improving balance and coordination, and establishing healthy patterns for the years ahead.
Getting outside also exposes your child to useful vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is important in developing strong bones, helping the body absorb calcium and phosphate from food, and sunlight is one of the best sources.
Pentavite also offers a range of products that can provide an additional source of vitamin D for your child.
Pentavite Calcium + Magnesium + Vitamin D3 Kids Liquid, Pentavite Calcium + Vitamin D3 & K2 Kids Capsules and Pentavite Vitamin D3 & K2 Kids Liquid all help your kids maintain strong teeth and bones, and support the absorption of dietary calcium, with no added artificial colours or flavours.
Some kids are naturally drawn to the outdoors, while some can take a little prompting. When luring kids off their screens, it helps to take into account the child's temperament.
If your child has a competitive spirit, suggest a race - on foot or bicycle - or sports with an element of rivalry. Other kids may be more tempted by activities without a competitive element, such as building an outdoor cubby house or bouncing on a trampoline.
Young kids can find the idea of 'just walking' a bit boring, so think of ways to add interest to your outdoor exercise, whether it's flying a kite, playing with the family dog, or throwing a ball or frisbee.
Sometimes it's possible to combine screen time and exercise - encourage your kids towards apps that incorporate physical activity and outdoor exploration, instead of passive consumption.
Or why not try out some games from the seventies to get your kids active and outdoors?
It's best to avoid screen time just before going to bed. Along with the extra stimulation, blue light can disrupt the body's natural rhythm, and this can lead to poor sleep. If you do let your kids near devices in the evening, try using a blue light filter to reduce the impact.
Lead by example
For better and worse, our kids learn a lot of their behaviour by watching what we do.
If children see their parents constantly spending time on phones and tablets they'll come to see that as normal, so try to minimise your own screen time when your kids are around. After a long day, it can be tempting to wind down with a little screen time.
But if you put your phone away, turn off the telly, and just be in the moment with your kids, it's almost always the more rewarding option.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
*Australian Institute of Family Studies 2015, 'Growing Up in Australia: The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, 2015 Report', Australian Government, September 2016.